Boxing poet helps Royal Mail launch a new film to help tackle the stigma of mental health

Royal Mail is launching a special film entitled “Everyday People” as part of its programme of work to increase awareness and breakdown the stigma of mental health in the workplace and UK communities, with the help of a Boxing Poet Laureate.

Matt Windle, Birmingham’s Poet Laureate and a professional flyweight boxer, narrates the film as a postman on his delivery round, revealing different mental health problems behind the doors he delivers mail to. It aims to increase awareness and show that mental health problems might be ‘closer to home than you think’.

The film – made by Royal Mail in collaboration with its three charity partners, Action for Children, Mind and Mental Health UK - aims to highlight the everyday occurrence of mental health issues amongst different types of people across various age groups. It can be viewed here at Opens in new window

Royal Mail is launching the film at the beginning of the New Year, which can be a more challenging time for people’s mental health. It is hoped that the film can help people recognise that mental health affects us all, either directly or indirectly, and encourage them to ask for help and support should they or their loved ones need it.

Professional Boxer and Poet Laureate of Birmingham, Matt Windle, said: “I was keen to be involved in this project because as a boxer I think that mental health is just as important as physical health. I have seen first-hand how mental health issues have affected friends and colleagues and I believe it’s important that everyone talks openly about this issue and is open-minded about it.  If the film helps people seek help or means people offer help to others then it will have done its job.”

Royal Mail’s partnership with the three charities supports its strategic commitment to mental well-being. Royal Mail worked with the charities to depict three common – but typically hidden – mental health issues that the charities frequently support people with.

The company wants to drive real change in people’s awareness and support more people with mental health problems both within its own organisation and in the communities it serves.

Sir Tony Hawkhead, CEO Action for Children, said: “The film, Everyday People, is a powerful and moving acknowledgment that mental wellbeing is an issue that affects us all either directly, or through a family member or a friend. As a society we are successfully breaking down the traditional stigma around mental health but there is a long way to go. The majority of more serious mental wellbeing issues originate in childhood and through our work with Royal Mail we are helping to tackle problems early.”

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, added: “We welcome Royal Mail’s new film as part of its ongoing commitment to raising awareness and breaking down stigma around mental health. Every employer in the country has a part to play in improving mental health, whether that is supporting the wellbeing of their own workforce or by supporting charities like Mind to continue our vital work. We look forward to working with Royal Mail closely as a charity partner to help them achieve their aims around mental health.”

Brian Dow, Managing Director of Mental Health UK, said: “The film does a great job of showing how mental health problems can crop up in every street, classroom and workplace, and how it’s up to us all to look out for one another. At Mental Health UK, we run over 400 services and 200 volunteer support groups in communities across the country for people just like those in the film. Thank you to Royal Mail for highlighting such an important issue.”

Royal Mail chose mental health as the cause it will support through its charity partnership from 2017 to 2020. The business has been working closely with its partners to support its mental health work across the UK.

The partnership covers a number of key objectives, including:

  • Inform and support Royal Mail’s workforce of 140,000 employees, promoting increased awareness and understanding  and better mental health
  • Use Royal Mail’s nationwide presence and reach to drive better awareness and reduce the unwarranted stigma around mental health issues  in the communities it serves
  • Raise at least £2 million, including matched giving, to support Royal Mail’s lead charity partner, Action for Children, to fund a ground-breaking preventative mental health programme for young people in schools across the UK
  • Leverage the company’s extensive supply chain to support all three charities, raise awareness of mental health and generate additional funds.

The organisation and its trade unions -  The Communication Workers Union and Unite (CMA) - aim to improve mental health support in the workplace by increasing awareness, reducing stigma, signposting the tools and support available and letting people know where to get help in a crisis.

Together with its unions, Royal Mail has developed a new, online stress risk assessment and associated guidance. The assessment aims to support early identification of stress-related issues. Royal Mail and its unions are also signatories of the Time to Change Pledge.

Royal Mail’s group employee assistance programme gives employees direct access to mental health support, counselling treatment as well as providing support to managers through coaching. In addition, as part of the company’s five-year mental health strategy “Because Healthy Minds Matter”, around 90,000 mental health information booklets have been distributed to colleagues throughout the business. Around 4,500 managers have completed a new, mental health e-learning course, with all 10,000 managers expected to complete it by March 2018. Around 7,000 managers have, in addition, used mental health awareness videos as further training so they can spot any issues in the workplace and 900 managers have completed Royal Mail’s Mental Health First Aid Awareness training course.

Lily Heinemann, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Community Investment at Royal Mail Group said: “Royal Mail is proud to work with and support our charity partners working in the mental health arena. We are committed to doing all we can to help people within our businesses and in the communities that we serve deal with mental health issues. We recognise that at some stage of our lives, we will all be affected by these issues. We believe the film we have launched today can help people better understand mental health and that it impacts us all, no matter who we are and how we may appear to other people. We hope that our work will help to give mental health parity with physical health because health minds really do matter.”

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Source: Royal Mail Group

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